Answers to the three questions


“The true purpose of humanity in general, and of every human being,  is to connect with the Light of the Creator in greater and greater itensity, and eventually to literally become one with the Light.  But creating this connection with the Light is not simply a matter of gaining access to it.  Making ourselves ready to receive the Light means ‘preparing the vessel’ into which the Light will flow.  It means taking positive action in the everyday conduct of our lives, and observing the rituals and practices that the Creator has provided as tools for our transformation.  It means replacing desire to receive for ourselves alone with desire to receive in order to share, and loving others as we love ourselves.”Now the test: 1. Who wrote this? (This is the kind of question that depends on very specific information being available to you.  That you’ve come across this in the past, of course, is only a matter of chance.  In actuality, it’s being tested on something you were never assigned to read!  If I were you I’d skip it except to perhaps enter a brief note of protest re the presenting of such an obscure text for identification.)

2. What school of thought might it represent? (Hints: The concept of “Creator” pretty much eliminates philosophies and religions which do not posit a “Creator.”   “…observing the rituals and practices that the Creator has provided as tools for our transformation” also eliminates certain candidates.   Beyond that you’re on your own.)

3. What do you think of the ideas in this quotation? (The truth be told, this is the one for all the marbles.  The other two questions are just lead-ins, although they are the only two to be answered in a subsequent posting.)  Use the “comment’ box to submit your replies (Notice I didn’t say “answers.”)

(Imagine a few days passing to allow time to think about the questions…OK, time is up, here come:)

The three questions answered, November 10, 2006

The author of the quotation is Rav P.S. Berg, dean and codirector of the Kabbalah Center, in his book, The Essential Zohar.

The author is Rav P.S. Berg.  The book is The Essential Zohar, a very well done summary of that 22 volume tract, the central text of Kabbalah.

Just as it suggests the Christian worldview to those more familiar with Christian mysticism, when the cultural/historical details are left out it also reads like a Buddhist work.  In fact Berg’s introduction makes specific that Kabbalah, while coming form a Jewish culture, is not part of the Jewish religion.

The more I read in the areas of religion and spirituality, the more firmly I believe that there is one universal truth presented thru the filters of various cultures.  Stephen Mitchell’s quite wonderful book, The Gospel According to Jesus, really brought this home to me.

There is great comfort in believing this, allowing me to escape the trap of making value judgments re choosing which understanding is “best.”  Once understood that the essence is to be found in stripping away the cultural specifics of any one, all become equal.

As that remarkably wise woman, Barbara Kaminski Straite Goldberg once said, “I believe the words of G-d.  It’s those of people I have trouble with.”

Published in: on November 14, 2006 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Bunch of Poems

Sleepless in a chair

I glance at our bed:

Pale light on the pillow

on your sleeping face.

Not a poem.  Not a dream.

I hear your winter breathing

and close my book.

*   *   *


When his wagon became

trapped in deep Russian snow,

the wood-gatherer, my grandfather

cut loose his horse

and came to America.

Why do I think of this now?

*   *   *


A car alarm wails.

I pray for the thief’s swift success.

*   *   *


Close up

the tall beautiful woman

at the far end of the car

is a boy.

*   *   *


I look ahead

the hill is steep.

I look behind

the valley’s deep.

I look straight down

the road is flat.

*   *   *

Saturday night outside my window:

shouts, squeals, honks, laughter–

the raucous roar and splatter of life.

There is no noise.

*   *   *


In all his wandering, meditation

and joyful drunkenness

playing ball with the children

visiting the ladies

Ryokan, great hermit poet Zen monk child-at-heart

never got to imagine himself

sitting in an eighth floor apartment

in new York City!

Hissing waves of traffic

rising and falling slowly–

this cold March morning rain.

*   *   *

One brief horn honk

thru the cool morning rain

reveals the world.

*   *   *

Enjoy your writing

While you write–

Tomorrow your critic

May overthrow your muse.

*   *   *


Today a client sat with me

eyes swollen in tears

refusing to speak

of his dead young son

lest that death become

real for him.

Thirty-nine years have passed

since you left this floating world.

Where have those four decades gone?

*   *   *

Do I like meditation, you ask.

No…no, I don’t like it

nor do I dislike it.

What, you then ask

do I get from it?

Nothing I can

put my finger on.

*   *   *

A patch of sunlight

a window’s shadow

moves off my leg

an across the bare wood floor.

Now long ago

friends and I

would pass warm aftenoons

in the timelessness

of shared wine.

Where are they now?

Do they live?

Do they remember?

(Not all that long before my friend Ed Rothkowitz passed I sent him this poem.  He replied, “Here, yes and yes.”)

*   *   *

When my father died

Spring flowers died

and all shades of Summer green

became the same.

Air was airless

the brilliant sun blinding.

*   *   *

Sadhu                                                                                                                                                       One of tens of thousands                                                                                                                                               Just like you and me–                                                                                                                                                               Really.

Published in: on November 14, 2006 at 11:17 pm  Leave a Comment